2023 was a great year for SOJOURN - not in the least because it was our 10th anniversary as an independent nonprofit! That’s why we’re bringing you not just a 2023 wrapped, but a whole DECADE wrapped - celebrating some memorable moments and milestones we’ve had over the last 10 years.
In 2013, we went from being The Rainbow Center to SOJOURN, an independent nonprofit. We hung a mezuzah- as all good Jewish orgs do!
In 2014, we traveled to Birmingham, AL engaging all of the city’s Jewish organizations for 18 months in our Welcoming Communities Project so they could enhance their LGBTQ+ inclusion practices.
In 2015, we were honored by Georgia Equality with the Phillip Rush Community Builder Award, and by Atlanta Pride as Grand Marshals of Pride’s Festival and Parade!
In 2016, we published our first LGBT Guide to Jewish Atlanta, a much-needed resource. We’ve since published 2 more editions and continue to offer that service to other Jewish communities in the South.
In 2017, we brought groundbreaking poet and scholar Dr. Joy Ladin on her first whirlwind tour of the South! Joy has offered to share her teaching multiple times since because she deeply cares - reaching people with her wisdom, her story-telling, and her gentleness.
In 2018, we implemented the Early Development for Gender Equity program or as we call it, EDGE, because it’s EDGY to teach young children and those who work with them to combat gender stereotypes and help every child become who they’re meant to be.
In 2019, we went to Jackson, MS! We worked with so many wonderful Jewish organizations in Jackson over the course of 6 months on LGBTQ+ welcoming and celebration.
In 2020, the world shut down and we launched Drawing from the Well, a weekly source of community and connection for LGBTQ+ Jews and allies. Drawing from the Well still meets weekly on Zoom on Fridays at 12:30p ET.
In 2021, we pivoted our usual Purim Off Ponce celebration by having a Rocky Horror Drive-In and gave awards to 22 people under 21!
In 2022, we started two big regional and national collaborations: Thrive, a national coalition that mobilizes Jewish organizations across the country to fight state-level anti-trans legislation, and the SOJOURN-Keshet Shivyon Cohort, which provides guidance and training to Southern Jewish organizations on their journeys to greater gender and sexual diversity. The connections we’ve made with Jewish organizations throughout the South have taken us to Tennessee, Texas, and beyond.
And to celebrate our 10th anniversary as an independent nonprofit this year, with a community auction! Many thanks to the incredible Amy Lighthill for emceeing.
Now we’ve caught up to 2023! We started the year with a huge legislative push, joining interfaith coalitions in Texas and Georgia to fight against gender-affirming care bans for trans youth.
In March, we returned to holding Purim Off Ponce to honor our Executive Director, Rebecca Stapel-Wax. We celebrated Rebecca’s 18th year of service to SOJOURN and all of the chai (life) she’s brought to Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities in Atlanta and beyond.
In October, we kicked off our Pathways to Progress speaker series presented by the Breman Foundation, a resource for mental health as it relates to the intersection of being Jewish, gender and/or sexually diverse, in the South.
This year, we also began two amazing LGBTQ+ community collaborations in Atlanta: You(th) Belong, which empowers queer teens all across the city, and QueerHillah, which serves LGBTQ+ Jews in their 20s and 30s. We pilot these programs in Atlanta so that we can bring them to other Southern cities, and we’re so excited by the community and growth we’ve seen so far.
And in October, we had a record-breaking 55 Jewish organizations join us as Atlanta Pride Partners. It was amazing to come together and celebrate at Pride Shabbat and the Atlanta Pride Parade.
We are your home on the journey to full inclusion.
The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN)'s mission is to empower communities to advance and celebrate gender and sexual diversity across the South.
Changing the landscape of inclusion through education.
SOJOURN is proud to offer a variety of educational activities and experiences. Our workshops focus on giving students, teachers, and communities the tools to be welcoming for gender and sexually diverse people, Judaic learning, and suicide prevention. Each of our workshops is customized for your individual group, needs, and time commitment.
Building inclusive communities through public outreach.
SOJOURN builds inclusive communities by coordinating the Jewish community’s participation in Atlanta’s annual Pride event, bringing in highly acclaimed speakers, and publishing the LGBTQ Guide to Jewish Atlanta.
Seeking to eliminate discrimination through advocacy.
SOJOURN seeks to eliminate gender inequity and discriminatory legislation through advocacy efforts in the South. Thanks in part to our efforts, Atlanta’s Jewish community has been a potent voice in conversations against discrimination, and not a single local rabbi has spoken in support of religious liberty bills.
Providing support for the LGBTQ+ community.
SOJOURN provides resources for LGBTQ people and their families through a wide variety of community programming and direct support. Programs include monthly teen programs, information and referral services, and a Comprehensive Sex Education Program. We also facilitate anti-bullying training, inclusivity audits, Pride celebrations, and direct support for the Atlanta LGBTQ community.